Allen Stone is a self described “hippie with soul,” with his long hair and thick rimmed glasses the average observer would not peg him for the talented R&B singer that he is. I was able to catch up with Stone, who is currently on tour, while he was riding around middle America in the back of his tour van. Luckily for us when he was not getting distracted by cute dogs at rest stops he was able to give us some great insight into his music.
(read more after the jump)
Like many great soul musicians of the past Allen Stone got his start singing in church, “my dad was a minister for a while so I grew up singing. It is where I found my love for the song and for singing,” said Stone. In Stone’s hometown of Chewelah, Washington there was a severe lack of soul musicians, “I didn’t have a soul culture around me. I didn’t have an R&B club to go to and learn how to play. I literally just learned from mimicking the soul records that I found,” he explained.
This technique of learning through imitation may help explain why Stone has been compared to great musicians like Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and why Grantland.com called him The Next Great Soul Singer. When asked about all of this though Stone responds with his distinctive high pitched chuckle followed by a resounding claim of “BULLSHIT.” He followed up his remark by saying “you know, it is very flattering to be mentioned in the same sentence as my idols. To get compared to those people– it is very flattering but it is also like ‘come on guys, you’re throwing me under the bus early.’ People are going to come to my shows and they’re going to be totally pissed off and disappointed. It’s just very flattering that’s all I can really say about it.”
Stone may have taught himself how to play soul music by listening to old records but as time wore on he created his own sound. However, he stays true to the soul greats of yesteryear by continuing to create music with substance, “a lot of my inspiration comes from wanting my songs to have content and give people some nourishment. I feel like soul music in the seventies used to be such a huge part of cultural movement and cultural stimulation. Now, I feel like it is only a part of bumpin’ and grindin’ at the club and that makes me sad because I feel like soul music has such power. That is where my inspiration comes from– for music to have soul and some consciousness again. You know, like, Marvin Gaye did with the “What’s Going On” record, I feel like that is something that needs to happen but a lot of R&B and soul musicians have dropped the ball,” said Stone.
When Stone was eighteen he made the move from Chewelah to Seattle, which is where his home is now when he is not on the road. For the last four years Stone has been on the road for three quarters of the year. When he is not tucked up in the back of a van or lounging in a hotel room he spends his leisure time with his family and friends. “I am a community guy so whenever I have free time it is typically spent with my friends and my family. I don’t have many hobbies beyond music simply because I can’t at this point in my life.”
A large part of Stone’s charm comes from the fact that he keeps the focus on his music and not his outward appearance, “I think so much emphasis is put on visual stimulation, for me– I got sick and tired of that a long time ago. I’m going to wear whatever I want. I am not going to try and look like Chris Brown or Justin Timberlake. I am definitely a hippie kid from Seattle, Washington that maybe doesn’t bathe as much as the traditional musician and definitely live out of a suitcase,” said Stone.
Tour life can take its toll on anybody, days and days in a van, hotel beds, and living out of a suitcase but Stone’s spirits remain high, “the tour schedule is nuts. We are going international this year. I am booked up until the end of May right now with dates quickly filling up throughout the entire year. You know, my goal is just to be alive at the end of the year and just be able to sing, play music, do what I love and make people happy.”
If you do not have the time to go see Allen Stone live at one of his many up coming tour dates be sure to check him out on Jimmy Kimmel on March 13th. In the meantime connect with him on twitter: @allen_stone or on his website: www.allenstone.com.
(Photo By: Jason Tang)Follow @RosaB213